Inflation trumps abortion for College Republicans when choosing candidates in midterm election


Image courtesy of Pitt College Republicans

The logo of Pitt College Republicans.

By Alexandra Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Election Day isn’t until Nov. 8, but Dylan Mitchell is already predicting the outcomes for Pennsylvania’s biggest races. 

“I think there’s gonna be a lot of ticket-splitting in this state this election,” Mitchell said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of voters that are voting for Mehmet Oz and Josh Shapiro.”

November’s midterm elections will decide whether Republican Oz or Democrat John Fetterman becomes Pennsylvania’s newest senator and whether Democrat Shapiro or Republican Doug Mastriano becomes the state’s governor, in addition to other local, state and national representatives. Members of the Pitt College Republicans club are saying what many national polls confirm — this year, the economy is one of the top issues on the ballot, especially for conservative voters. 

Mitchell, the current vice president and president-elect of College Republicans, said he will not vote for any candidate whose policies will increase inflation — especially after what he has seen as franchise owner of Vocelli Pizza in Hampton Township. 

“I’m a small business owner, so inflation has definitely hurt us,” Mitchell, a sophomore law, criminal justice and society and politics and philosophy double major said. “I’ve watched our food costs double over the last year. People can’t keep up. I’ve seen other small businesses close … So anyone who is going to support more spending proposals that are going to keep driving inflation is just going to be out for me right off the bat.” 

Joshua Minsky, a sophomore neuroscience major and vice president-elect of College Republicans, also said the economy is his top issue this year, though he spoke more about the impact of foreign policy on the economy than inflation. Minsky believes the dominance of the U.S. dollar is at stake because of difficult relationships with foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia. He said if the dollar is no longer the dominant world currency, it could seriously weaken the American economy. 

“It’s critical,” Minsky said. “The American economy funds our military. It funds our foreign policy. It allows us to have social safety nets to the extent that we do and it’ll get much worse if all that goes away.” 

Minsky and Mitchell also expressed support for increased fracking in the U.S., including reactivating the Keystone Pipeline System. Mitchell believes increased energy independence from fracking would make America a better ally to Europe and drive down gas prices to reduce overall inflation. While he recognized that the global climate is an important issue, he said eliminating fracking in the U.S. makes American energy consumption worse for the environment. 

“Getting our energy from overseas isn’t cleaner than making it here,” Mitchell said. “It’d be cleaner to just make it here. It just makes us feel better to get it from overseas, but we’re still using the same amount whether we make it here or get it from a higher price from global tyrannical dictators like Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia or Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.”

Another issue important to College Republicans members this year is protecting Second Amendment rights. Salvatore Zuber, a senior advanced mathematics and mechanical engineering major and current president of College Republicans, said he has a permit to carry a gun in Pennsylvania and often does so to feel safer. 

“Over the summer I was working here, actually, in North Oakland, and I was running deliveries for work and twice I heard gunshots,” Zuber said. “Obviously I can’t carry on campus, so I don’t, but I carry just about everywhere else … It’s just important for me to be able to defend myself.” 

Abortion access became a national issue for Democratic voters this year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion. However, none of the College Republicans who spoke to The Pitt News — all of whom identified as pro-life — said they considered abortion a crucial part of their vote this November. 

Mitchell said he would not support a candidate who would ban abortion without exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. However, he said he will vote for Mastriano, who said in April 2022 that he would ban abortions with no exceptions, in part because Mitchell does not believe Mastriano would be able to enact such a policy. 

“No matter his beliefs personally, it’s unrealistic,” Mitchell said. “He would never get that passed, and I’m glad that he won’t get that passed with no exceptions. I’d like to see it with the exceptions, but anything that I know is unrealistic to actually get passed isn’t going to be a major deciding vote for me.” 

Pennsylvania senatorial candidates Oz and Fetterman recently faced off in their first and only debate, where Fetterman struggled with speaking and auditory processing as a result of his stroke earlier this year. Minsky said he sympathized with Fetterman, but considered it “critical” for a senator to speak and understand English without captions, and called the Democratic Party “cruel” for continuing to push Fetterman as a candidate. 

“He’s being dragged around essentially for political gain by the Democrat Party, and I think it’s gross,” Minsky said. “He’s embarrassing himself in front of millions of people on the debate stage so again, some bureaucrats in D.C. can continue to hold power. I think it’s very sad and this person is clearly suffering and you’re dragging him around when he can’t speak.” 

When it comes to voting, Zuber said, sometimes it comes down to who you agree with more instead of who you agree with on everything. While he said he considers himself more moderate than Oz and Mastriano, he will still vote for them over their Democratic opponents. 

“Oz is going to represent me better than Fetterman is, Mastriano is going to represent me better than Shapiro is,” Zuber said. “While I may not agree with Oz or Mastriano on everything, because I certainly don’t … with the current choices, you know, I’ve made up my mind, at least in those two races.” 

In all, despite believing Shapiro could take the Pennsylvania governor’s seat, Mitchell said he feels optimistic about Republicans’ chances across the board this November — in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. 

“I think there’s a strong fighting chance for Republicans in the Senate,” Mitchell said. “They’ve got a good shot. I think they’re almost shoo-ins for the House of Representatives. And I think they’re running really strong gubernatorial campaigns. I think they’re gonna come away with a surprising amount of governor’s mansions on the morning of Nov. 9.”